I recently visited my sister in Arizona and once again am amazed at her postage stamp yard that she gardens in quite intensely. Last summer was her first year and she started with a hardpan dirt yard with a hefty layer of white gravel. So, instead of spending countless hours digging it all out and adding fill she laid straw bales similar to what Mar did in a previous post, and built some raised beds around the perimeter. She ate something out of that little garden all summer and through the winter. Lots of broccoli, radishes ( which I have never been successful at), squash, tomatoes, flowers and whatknot.
Here are a few pictures of her small but lovely garden. She has mostly flowers this year which are self seeding and beautiful, well suited to the climate.